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Children's return to school after treatment for solid tumours

  • Education
  • Psychology


Great advances have been made in recent years in the treatment of children's cancers. Consequently, increasing numbers are now returning to school. The pilot study described in this paper looks at the problems experienced by some of these children, their teachers and parents, and some of the solutions which have been found, with a view to eventually taking some action to help the situation. The results are based on detailed studies of 16 children who had all been off treatment for two or more years and had therefore returned to school on a normal full-time basis. Parents and teachers were interviewed. The preparation for the return to school, reintegration problems including general physical, academic, psychological and behavioural ones, schoolmates' reactions, siblings' reactions, and the teachers, and parents, suggestions for how these might be alleviated are considered. Five important factors emerged especially clearly: 1. (1) Children whose treatment absence was right at the start of their schooling had particularly severe problems in integrating into school. 2. (2) Children at secondary schools had special anxieties about their school-work, especially Mathematics, which leads to consideration of the whole problem of teaching during absence from school. 3. (3) Some children are having severe problems in obtaining efficient prostheses. 4. (4) Whilst classmates were usually welcoming or unconcerned, much teasing was experienced from children in other classes, particularly in secondary schools. 5. (5) Whilst attention is focused on the sick child, siblings are developing severe problems of their own which need special attention. Most teachers and parents would have welcomed advice on or help with these problems and it is hoped that, when a larger scale study has clarified the finer points, some systems for helping will be devised.

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